Analysing the decisions taken by the selection committee for India's ODI series against New Zealand
The new Indian cricket selection committee has so far sent confusing signals to the followers of Indian cricket with their interesting choices.
It began by sending Gautam Gambhir as a replacement for KL Rahul for the Kolkata and Indore Tests, when Shikhar Dhawan was in the squad. Then when Dhawan got injured, Karun Nair was sent as his replacement when Gambhir was already there.
While it now looks even more certain that the 34-year-old will play in Indore on Saturday in the third Test versus New Zealand, the logic behind sending a backup for an existing one made little sense for those glued to the series.
On Thursday, they met again with MS Dhoni to pick the squad for the five-match ODI series against New Zealand and after about 45 minutes, came out with yet another intriguing set of calls, as far as the team for the first three-ODIs was concerned.
Raina gets another opportunity
Among the first ones was giving Suresh Raina another lifeline in ODI cricket.
The left-hander turns 30 next month and will know that, while age is certainly on his side, the selectors will no doubt be keeping an eye out for players who could do his job as well as he can, which puts pressure on him to consistently churn out good scores.
The selectors and Dhoni himself will keep an eye on whether the Uttar Pradesh batsman, in his time off, has found a way to counter the rising ball and whether he shows enough assurance when bowled at him.
The reasoning for resting Jadeja and Ashwin
The other outcome to emerge out of the meet is the decision to rest both R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja for the first three ODIs and bring in Axar Patel and Jayant Yadav.
Some might say it's a decision that would weaken the team significantly but it's a decision that may benefit Indian cricket in the long-term.
Both Ashwin and Jadeja are, at present, the best strike bowlers that India have and while your best bowlers should play most of the games, they also need their downtime.
The two have played every series, including the IPL, from the start of the year and to give them some time off could prove beneficial.
I also think that this decision taken by the committee to give the duo a breather has a bit of an Anil Kumble-angle to it.
Having played the game for close to two decades and having been the match-winner for the country for so long, he perhaps knows that India needs to use their prime weapons judiciously, and considering the long Test season, them remaining fit for a large part of the remainder of the 11 Tests is absolutely critical.
The Mandeep Singh selection
The third and the largely untouched part is the selection of Mandeep Singh.
He has certainly been impressive in recent times with his performance in the A series, but his inclusion could make for an interesting make-up of the middle order.
Assuming he plays as an opener and Raina is picked to play, then India's batting lineup could read as follows:
Rohit, Mandeep, Kohli, Rahane/Pandey, Raina and Dhoni forming the top six.
If they don't play him as an opener, then I don't see the management preferring him over Manish Pandey, who has also shown a lot of potential in white-ball cricket, as well in the middle-order.
India’s rotation policy
It is an interesting yet good dilemma to have for Dhoni and Kumble and one that could see a rotation policy being employed to see which is the best combination that works.
The eventual outcome of all of this is that the selectors have shown a vision – to offer opportunities to a few youngsters and ensure that, while the present team isn’t completely changed, but the future is not entirely neglected as well.
The MSK Prasad-led panel have drawn a lot of flak for not having sufficient experience, but if they can pull off this gamble that they have dared to take, then they might find some praise come their way.